Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Raising teenagers is hard, can I get an Amen? Oh man, one of my sweet girls has been ticked with me for the better part of the day. We've had an ongoing situation, that my husband and I have been observing, and well, trying to navigate in the way we feel is best. This past week, we decided that enough was enough, and that it was time to step in, and take a firm stance. Well, although her reaction could have been worse, she was still frustrated, and she spent the afternoon in sulky silence. It's times like these that I miss the preschool days...smaller kids, smaller problems. But, life will throw us into uncomfortable situations, and those circumstances help in shaping our character, and that applies to both children and their parents. Happily, as we're heading to bed, the waters are calm again, but everybody, I am tired. Still, it's worth it. Now, I'm off to bed. Have a good evening!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Brinkman Adventures - Season 6: Underground Rising - A Crew Review

I have been an enthusiastic fan of audiobooks for as long as I can remember. Even as a small child, I loved listening to stories on records (does anyone still remember those?) for hours at a time. When I began teaching preschool as a young adult, I would play various audiobooks (now on cassettes, as the world progressed in technology, lol) during rest time. I still love audio stories, and now, as a homeschool mom, there is always an audiobook playing somewhere in our home. They make a great distraction, and make the more mundane tasks, like household chores, a bit easier to get through. They are also a must have for us on car rides, and we do find ourselves in the car quite a bit these days. I have passed on my love to my daughters as well, my 13 year old in particular. I am frequently barraged with urgent requests to make a trip to the library, so she can check out a fresh audio book. 

Brinkman Adventures saved me at least one trip to the library, by providing our family with the digital version of Season 6: Underground Rising , the latest in their series. The Homeschool Crew has had the privilege of reviewing some of their previous seasons in recent years, but this is our first time around with the company. I'll tell you right up front...we are loving them! This newest collection is a little shorter than past episodes. Season 6  are approximately 25 minutes per story, with a total running time closer to 2 hours of material, versus about 5 hours of material, which is what other seasons have taken. That 25 minute time has been perfect for our family. Many of our car trips are in the general half hour time frame, creating a great opportunity to listen in full, without breaking up the story. If we 're at home, taking a 25 minute break to listen to a story was just enough time to relax and listen in between schoolwork.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this wonderful company, Brinkman Adventures is a radio show that retells actual missionary accounts through the fictional Brinkman family. Their hope is to inspire a new generation to follow Jesus Christ. They have a wonderful story that you can read about here . These are more than audio stories, to borrow a phrase from their site, these are "movies for your ears." Yes, they are! Actors, sound effects, music, those aspects are all included, and make for a compelling listening experience. When I listened to my first story in this series, I turned it on, with the intention of doing some other busywork in the background. I wasn't five minutes into the story, when I realized that I had stopped everything that I was doing, because it had completely captured my attention. Oh, I love stories like these, that have that ability to draw you in!

The lineup for Season 6: Underground Rising features episodes 55 through 60 and is as follows:

55.) Dutch Underground Part 1
56.) Dutch Underground Part 2
57.) Twice Born Fly
58.) I Wonder Why
59.) Free Burma Rangers Part 1
60.) Free Burma Rangers Part 2

Through these dramas, we went back in time and were given a glimpse of the life of Dutch couple Reng and Lynn VanKesteren, and what they did to aid other people in need during WWII, and their harrowing escape from the Nazis. This is a two part series, and my favorite out of  season 6. I love learning about the history from this time period, and the faith and courage that so many ordinary folks displayed. 

Twice Born Fly laid out what it takes to attain salvation through Jesus, and I found the young actor was very sweet and heart stirring. I liked the way that they provided an example of a "sinner's prayer" in a way that children can understand (and adults too, for that matter). There is a cute instance where the young character swallows a bug, and yes it did actually happen in real life.

I Wonder Why was my second favorite  in Season 6, and recounts the story of the Wonder family, and how they came to travel to India as missionaries. These are the kinds of stories that I find so compelling, the ones where ordinary people follow God's call, but find that there is not necessarily an easy road ahead. This story tells of the discouraging circumstances that were a reality for this family, and the faithful way that they pushed through the difficulties, in order to obey the Lord. Ultimately, He did reveal Himself in amazing ways, through the healing of their son, who had previously had life threatening allergies, and in the transformation of the children that they had come to minister to. Fantastic testimony. 

The last two, Free Burma Rangers,  is a two part story recounting the journey of Dave Eubank from his childhood to his becoming a Green Beret in the Special Forces. They do warn parent of some intense scenes in the second episode, so parents may want to listen to this before their children do. I love the variety of stories that is included in this season, and because of that, most families should be able to find one that their children will find engaging. 

The lessons don't end with the stories themselves. The website has a page of "Real Stories", that pair with each season. There are background stories for each individual story, as well as actual photos, information about the time period and culture, and many interesting details that pertain to them. Using these pages along with the audiobooks can make a meaningful, and enjoyable family devotion time and/or supplement to your Bible and History studies.

As a special offer to you, Brinkman Adventures are offering a 10% discount on their site, from October 10th through October 31. Use the code FALL10 when you checkout. How wonderful! I'm going to make use of this offer for our family.

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Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

CashCrunch Games - A Crew Review

How many of you can relate to the following scenario? You're walking through the store, with several preschools toddling along with you, and you come across an elderly person, who looks at your family, and with a note of nostalgia remarks, "Enjoy them now, they grow up so fast." I've had quite a few of those sweet encounters, and typically, I would simply nod, smile, and be on my way shortly after. The thing is, it's so true. They do grow up fast. I blinked, and found myself with two teenage daughters in the house. Now, as we begin our journey through the high school years, the question is looming larger in front of us, "What will you do for the rest of your life?" Interestingly, that question isn't only for my daughters. I find myself beginning to consider what I will do with my time when my girls leave home, and begin to make their way in the world. 

Fortunately for me, this is where being a member of the Homeschool Review Crew has once again provided a great resource to review, that addresses this very topic. My daughters and I had the opportunity to each  take the CashCrunch Careers test from CashCrunch Games .

First, you will set up your account or accounts if you have more than one person taking the test. It was very simple to complete. You should know that each person taking the test requires their own email account, as it will not allow more than one person per email address. This was not an issue for us, as both girls have their own emails, but not everyone does, so there you are.

The test is online, and made up of seventy five questions. For each question, you will choose between a pair of words, selecting the one that you feel best describes your personality. It doesn't take a very long time, about ten minutes or so. If you have trouble deciding which word fits you the most accurately, you can hover over each word, and see two more synonyms for the word that may make the answer a little more clear. Once you have completed the questions, click on the "submit" button, and the test will generate a report for you. You can immediately read it online, download it, and print it, if you like. Using research from the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as other sources, you will find a list describing what motivates and demotivates you, your ideal work environment, and a list of jobs that line up with your answers. The website also provides a list of possible colleges to choose from, that offer degrees in the fields suggested. They also include estimated projections of job growth in each particular field.

So, our results were not exactly what I was expecting. While the test revealed some attributes that described our personalities, the list of jobs that were suggested to be a good fit for us, were pretty much the same for all three of us. While we do share similar personality traits since we are related, there are enough differences between us where I expected a little more diversity. I also found that the suggested careers were very broad, and basically all management. We did have a laugh that all of us had the career of Funeral Director included in our assessment. Um, no. 

As we took the test, we all struggled with certain word choices where neither felt like an accurate fit. There were also no creative or artistic questions, which I felt neglected a large part of my and my daughters' personality. Basically, while I like the idea of using our character traits and skills to help in determining a good career path, this particular test skipped a big section of the population. After all, not everyone is cut out for a management position. Unfortunately, I don't think that any of us, me or my girls, found this to be helpful in choosing a career. I would love to see this company fine tune the details, and perhaps include more choices, both in the test questions, and in career options. 

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CashCrunch Careers {CashCrunch Games Reviews}

Monday, October 8, 2018

Happy Birthday!

Well, this is it. It's the dawning of a new era. Both of my daughters are now teenagers, and I have no idea where the time went. This week, we celebrated my baby girls' thirteenth birthday. I love her enthusiasm for life, and her love for celebrations, great and small. It was a great birthday for her, and we enjoyed it all. Here are a few photos...

Happy Birthday, Baby!!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Teach Sunday School ~ Books of the Bible At a Glance ~ A Crew Review

Do any of you remember the theme song from the children's show that starts out, "Do you know what's in the Bible?" That little ditty has been playing on a loop in my head ever since we began reviewing Books of the Bible At a Glance from Teach Sunday School . So, do you know what's in the Bible? Or does the thought of trying to begin a study on your own intimidate you? If you find yourself in the latter category, then you will really find this resource helpful.

Basically, these are "cheat sheets" for each of the sixty six books in the Bible. This is not a study unto itself, rather, each sheet is a one page synopsis of the book, providing all of the pertinent information, including the following: 

* New Testament or Old Testament
* Author
* Main Ideas
* Who is the audience?
* Why was it written?
* Key verses
*Other important points

How you choose to implement these pages is completely up to you. As I sit here and consider the possibilities, there are numerous ways to use them, whether for individual study, or as a tool in preparing lessons for a group. The information is helpful as you plan for any age group, really. Speaking for myself, when I am about to read a book from Scripture, I like to refresh my memory with all of the background information, in order to keep everything within the correct context. This is also valuable for my teenagers, as they learn to navigate the Bible on their own. I can have them read these information pages, providing them with a foundation, so they get the general idea of what's going on before they begin to read. Furthermore, the key verses that each sheet provides, are good ones to have my daughters memorize, as well as practice copy work. Up until recently, our family has been, for the most part, using more formal studies and curriculum for Bible time. I like these Books of the Bible At a Glance to wean them off of those books a bit, in order to teach them how to study for themselves. Not that there is anything wrong with the other types of studies. I love them and use them. I think we would all agree though, that at some point, we need to know how to study the Bible on its own.

I have the opportunity to teach Sunday School once a month at our local church. They are a mix of preschool and elementary children, and this is another setting where these sheets are useful. While most kids are not necessarily interested in the deeper theological aspects of a lesson, it still helps me to have background information as I plan my lessons. Likewise, if you're planning for an older class, the details included make for a more lively study and discussion. See? They are useful for all ages.

For the purpose of this review, I printed off all of the sheets, and put the in a binder for our use. As we have read the Bible for our quiet time, we used them to get an overview before reading a particular book. As I mentioned, I like these for my teens, as they learn to navigate the Scriptures on their own. Our binder will continue to stay out in a prominent place for our own use, as well as for help in planning church lessons.

One more thing that I want to share with you is the fantastic resources that are available at the Teach Sunday School website. There are a variety of activities, lesson plans, crafts, seasonal ideas, printables, and even Christian skits for you to try. There are also tools for parenting, handouts, ideas for service projects, and more that I haven't listed. If your curiosity has been piqued, go visit their site, and take a look!

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Books of the Bible At-a-Glance { Teach Sunday School Reviews}

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

David C Cook ~ Case Makers Academy ~ Forensic Faith ~ A Crew Review

When I was somewhere around the ages of nine and twelve, my grandmother introduced me to the treasure that was the Trixie Belden mystery series. That wonderful, innocent mystery collection sparked a love of reading for me. (I wish that I had kept those books too, because they go for a premium price these days, but I digress.) The only downside to those mysteries that I spent so much of my leisure time consuming, is that the experience was passive, and once I turned that last page, it was over, and I was left hanging until the next book became available. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. While reading can be a somewhat interactive experience, it is typically a solo activity, and that is okay. However, not everyone shares the love of reading that I have, so resources that can make the experience fun, and engaging are fantastic.

My twelve year old daughter (she'll be thirteen tomorrow, actually), have been reading and reviewing the book, Forensic Faith For Kids , which is a part of the Case Makers Academy by David C Cook . As you can guess from the title, this is a detective story. What sets this apart from other mysteries though, is that it serves to strengthen kids in their faith with Jesus, and teach them the tools necessary to own their faith, that is, to understand what they believe, and why. This will help them to be able to not only witness to others in their lives, but to provide the reasons for our faith in Christ. As a Christian, doesn't that sound like a valuable tool to include in your belt, so to speak?

I enjoy biographies, and learning the stories of people and their backgrounds, and so I found the author's history interesting. Husband and wife J. Warner Wallace, and Susie Wallace have ten plus years of experience in working and teaching kids within the church. J. Warner, a former atheist, is a cold case homicide detective, and has been interviewed on quite a few prominent news channels. He has a Master's degree in Theology, as well as a few more impressive accomplishments that can be found at their website.  Susie, who holds a degree in Speech Pathology, is the co-writer and editor of this kids series. 

Written for ages ranging from eight years old, to about twelve years, old, this book will help parents equip their children with the tools needed to really understand, and then share their faith. The book begins with a  foreword from J. Wallace, and a little bit of his testimony. The story then opens with a small group of kids, Daniel, Jason, and you! Or, me, as it were. That is ,the story is written in a manner that involves you, the reader, and includes you in the storyline. Back to the story, Daniel and Jason (and you) are raising money for their baseball team by providing car washes to the community, when they come upon a Corgi puppy. Looking at its tag, they see the name, "Bailey". After asking other baseball team members, they determine that the dog is lost. 

The kids happen to be a part of a Junior Detective Academy, and Daniel's mom suggests that they ask the leader, Detective Jeffries, how to go about finding Bailey's owner. As a side plot, a girl named Hannah, who is another member of the Junior Detective Academy, is struggling with how to convince a boy from her school, named Marco, that Jesus is who He said He is, the Son of God. Marco has been looking downcast lately, but doesn't believe that Jesus is God. For that matter, he doesn't believe that there is a God at all. So, with the help of Detective Jeffries, the group begins to learn how to investigate, collect evidence, and prove their case for the truth of God's Word. I really like the way that the author's conclude this story, with a sweet twist regarding who Bailey's owners turn out to be. At the same time, the ending is not the typical, predictable, "every puzzle piece finds its space" one that is often found in a kids story. Instead, the lesson is, learn your faith, own your faith, go out and share your faith, and leave the results up to God. I don't mean to say that this book concludes with a sad note, no, it is very uplifting. I'm very happy to say that it leaves out the cheesy aspect that so many books incorporate.

Throughout the book, there are little pop up boxes that give assignments for Scriptures to read, interesting facts, and other information. See photos:

But hang on, we're not done yet! There's more to this book than the book itself. Remember that I mentioned that this offers other tools to provide an engaging, interactive experience? The website for this series features short videos (maybe four to seven minutes) for each chapter that give a glimpse into the upcoming happenings in the story. For each video, there are downloadable, printable worksheets and adult guides that may be used to stretch the story, and help young readers retain the information being taught. You could certainly read only the book if you prefer, but these sheets are great for really digging in, and at the end of the book, you can put it all together as a booklet. There is even a certificate of completion that may be printed out. I'm thinking this would be fantastic for Family night activities, youth groups, Sunday school, or a neighborhood Bible study for middle-schoolers. 

I read the book, as well as my almost thirteen year old daughter. She grabbed it the day that it arrived in the mail, and devoured it! She loved it. She enjoyed the plot line, the characters, and the detective aspects of it. I've been trying to think of some creative ways to get the local neighborhood kids together ~ homeschooled and public schooled alike, and I'm seriously considering using this book as the subject. I love it. Even better, there are adult versions of this series for parents. This is a wonderful resource, and I hope you'll do some investigating on your own, and see if you agree!

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Forensic Faith for Kids {David C Cook  and  Case Makers Academy Reviews}

Sunday, September 30, 2018

It's been such a crazy couple of weeks. Tomorrow is October 1, and this is definitely a year where I'm happy to see the end of September. It's been the oddest combination of the longest, shortest month. With all of the flurry that was hospital visits, and the ups and downs that accompanied those, and the ultimate heartbreak of losing my mother in law, we are all tired.

Still, there are blessings. Mom knew and loved the Lord, and we rejoice that she is having a great day in Heaven. Her Memorial service was lovely, with all of the kids and some grand kids participating. It was a beautiful time of remembering, laughing, and crying. We enjoyed visiting with friends and family that came from all over to pay respects. More laughing, more crying.

Now, the dust is beginning to settle. It's been a weekend of fatigue, as we begin the task of living a new normal. It still seems unreal. We are all comforted that this is not the final goodbye. We will see her again. Heaven feels a little bit closer. Tomorrow, we will return to a normal school day, my husband will return to work, and we will carry on. We will grieve, but not without hope. Thank you Jesus.